Kuymak or Muhlama is simply corn meal cooked in butter, then made to a pudding like consistency by the addition of water and lots of melting cheese… The last step is to pour melted, browned butter on top… This is one of the main dishes of Eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey… It showcases some of the main produce of the region: cheese, butter and corn; and does it well. The simplicity and easy preparation of this dish made Muhlama one of the most cooked dishes because in the past hard-working Black Sea women do not have time to cook dishes with long preparation time since they work in the agricultural lands over the mountain slopes and also take care of their cattles… It is eaten together with Corn Bread, which is another staple of the region, and Corn Bread gives the crunchy texture you will need with this oozing dish and also accentuates the corn meal in the dish.

The Ataturk Obsession

It’s so creepy. Ataturk is literally EVERYWHERE. It’s an official law in Turkey that every administrative and official building (like schools, students dorms, hospitals, etc.) must have his photo framed on the wall in every single room. Every single classroom in a school needs to have his image on the wall. Is he seriously that important that we need to see his face wherever we go???

There are statues of him everywhere. My friend took a photo of this statue above at a main intersection in Malatya (a city close to Elazig).  As if having one statue of Ataturk wasn’t enough, they had to have another twin of himself placed, completely naked. It seems very occult like. 

It’s as if he’s worshiped. I’ve asked so many Turks over and over again, why do Turks love Ataturk so much? And they always give the same typical answer: “Well, he’s the founder of the modern republic of Turkey, blah blah blah…” Well, no kidding Sherlock, I know that. But why exactly do you love him? What did he do which makes everyone love him so much? No one can answer this question for me.

It’s as if they don’t even know why they love him so much; as if they’ve all been brainwashed. Literally, everyone loves him. But for what?? For getting rid of the Arabic script and using Latin? For abolishing the caliphate? For forbidding the athan to be heard? Despite all the oppression he forced on people, I have yet to find a person who says they dislike him. Which is really weird, because you’ll always have some people who hate a person and others who love him/her. There’s always a balance of opinions. Except for Ataturk. Or maybe they’re just still not allowed to voice any negative opinions of him.

What baffles me is how in a country that seems so religious and devoted to Islam, how can they have so many statues and images of him placed everywhere? Statues are strongly forbidden in Islam. It is a very strange paradox.

In Elazig, all the students and teachers were in the auditorium rehearsing our closing ceremony (for the end of summer school). We all stood up to sing the Turkish national anthem, and of course, lo and behold a huge picture of Ataturk comes up on the screen. I found this all very strange since in Islam, the only one for whom we stand up for is for Allah s.a.w. Yet all the kids were singing at the top of their lungs like soldiers, singing for Ataturk. I think I had my right knee bent, and my student standing next to me, nudged me saying: “Teacher you have to do it like this!” She puts her arms to her sides with an arrow straight posture and her chin held up like they’re all in the army. I’m thinking… this kid needs to relax.

The level of devotion they have for Ataturk is bizarre. If he were an incredibly good man who helped humanity immensely, then I would understand… but at the moment I couldn’t help but feel awkward standing there, while all the other kids sang to his photo with immense pride.